• Home
  • Training
  • How to Train Your Dog to Stay Away from the Road

How to Train Your Dog to Stay Away from the Road

How to Train Your Dog to Stay Away from the Road
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

You step out onto the sidewalk to start your walk, but before you can even look for oncoming traffic, your canine friend has leapt into the road without a care in the world. You swiftly pull on the leash to avoid the oncoming truck. Fortunately, you get away with just a beep from the truck and you read some choice words coming from his lips. This isn’t the first time your dog has had a near miss on the roads and you fear it won’t be the last. It’s made even worse if you live near busy roads where the chances of an accident are high.

Training your dog to stay away from roads could save you from serious consequences. If he is involved in a traffic collision and survives, you may have a hefty vet bill. But even worse, he may not survive and you could lose him for good. Setting some road boundaries, therefore, is essential.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to stay away from roads isn’t all plain sailing. Getting him to be aware of the road boundaries takes considerable time and a number of steps. You’ll have to increase your control with obedience commands and you’ll have to utilize a number of measures to make getting on the road harder. If he’s a young puppy he should be eager to learn and respond to training in just a week or two. If he’s older with years of playing traffic roulette under his collar, be prepared to invest up to 6 weeks into training.

Get the training right and you could well save his life. You may also save someone else’s life. Every year people die when they try to swerve out of the way of hazards on the road. You don’t want your canine pal to be responsible for anyone's death!

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

Before your road safety course begins, you’ll need a few bits. You need a quiet stretch of road to practice on and you’ll need to avoid training during the early morning and evening rush hour. You’ll also want to get some treats or your dog's favorite food broken into small chunks. These will be used to motivate and reward him.

You’ll also need a secure leash, 15 minutes a day to dedicate to training, and a positive attitude. Once you’ve collected all of that, you’re good to go!

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Sit and Safe Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Head for a quiet road

Make sure you have him secured to a leash and have some yummy treats tucked in your pocket You’re going to teach him to sit every time he approaches a road.

2

Hold out a treat

Make sure you’re on the edge of the sidewalk as if you’re about to cross the road. Use the treat to get his attention and then issue a ‘sit’ command.

3

Reward

As soon as he sits give him a treat and some praise. If he doesn’t sit straight away, use your hand to gently push his bottom down. He may need some encouragement the first few times so be patient.

4

Practice and make him wait

Practice this by constantly crossing the same road for 15 minutes a day for the first few days. As he gets the hang of it, keep him seated for longer before you give him a treat. This way you’ll soon have him sat and waiting for your permission whenever he’s about to cross a road.

5

Only cross the road when it’s completely clear

Make sure you do this every time. This will slowly drill into him that he can only cross the road when it’s empty. If a car comes, pull him back to the sidewalk and have him sit again. If you’re consistent with this everyday for several weeks, he will quickly become the best behaved dog around cars you’ve ever met.

The Utilize Help Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

A body harness and short leash

When you take him on walks near roads, have him on a very short leash. Also put a body harness on him, this will give you extra control and reduce the strain on his neck. This way you’ll quickly be able to pull him out of any car's way.

2

Walk on the outside

Always walk between the road and your dog. Have him close to your side, further away from the road than you. If you keep this up every time you walk it will become habit for him to walk a safe distance away from cars.

3

Be firm

If he does step onto the road, quickly pull him out of the way. Don’t shout and scare him, he won’t learn that way. Just be calm and assertive. If you react quickly every time, he’ll soon give up trying to step on the road altogether.

4

Praise him

If you’re walking alongside busy roads and he stays well behaved by your side, give him the odd treat and verbal praise. This will help reinforce what the right behavior is when he’s near cars.

5

Consistency

The key to this training is being persistent. It’s all about creating a road side habit. If every time he’s near cars he lets you walk on the near side to the cars, he’ll be safer. If he’s pulled off the road every time he steps on it, he’ll eventually stop doing it. If he’s rewarded for walking calmly around cars, he’ll repeat the behavior for more treats. So be consistent and after several weeks he will catch on.

The Wait Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Find a quiet room

Take him into a room that’s free from distractions and go armed with a pocket full of treats. You’re going to teach him to wait whenever he sees a car.

2

‘Wait’

Stand in front of him and issue a ‘wait’ command (it can be any word you want to use). Then take a step back and give him a treat. The key is to reward him even when you’ve barely backed up to start with.

3

Gradually increase the distance

Start walking further away before you give him a treat. You need to slowly increase the distance and time he waits, otherwise he’ll get confused. Practice this every day until you can walk out the room and he’ll still stay sat there.

4

Time to up the stakes

Head outside at a relatively quiet time of day. You need there to be a few cars, but not a really busy road. Walk as you normally would, but as soon as you see a car issue the ‘wait’ command. Have him sit there until the car passes and then give him a treat and lots of praise.

5

Make it harder

Start on quiet roads, but after a few successful days you can start practicing on busier roads. Continue with the reward system until you can instruct him to wait swiftly whenever a car approaches. When he’s mastered it you can stop giving him treats and enjoy having a canine pal who’ll stand still and wait for cars to pass before he moves an inch.

By James Barra

Published: 10/18/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Puppidoo

Dog breed icon

Golden Retriever

Dog age icon

9 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

I am moving into an apartment that has a busy road at the front door and woods in the back. I need Puppidoo to not go up to the road. I need him to be able to be off leash when we get out of the car to go to the bathroom and walk around a little bit in the woods in the back yard and not wander up to the road. It is not very far from the back of the apartment to the road. I do not want to have to have him on leash or on a lead every time he goes outside. I have a Petsafe wireless fence but it will not fit every situation...

March 9, 2022

Puppidoo's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Chelsea, First, I don't recommend having any dog off-leash near a road. Even a fully off-leash trained dog can get distracted for a second and run after something, and your attention, ability to recall, and speed of recalling may not be perfect and quick enough in all situations. It only takes once when it comes to roads and cars. I train all my dogs to an off-leash level, but we clip the leash back on during an off-leash walk when we approach a road. Look into something like this leash for convenience: https://niteize.com/raddog-all-in-one-collar-leash https://www.etsy.com/listing/770247451/retractable-dog-lead-pocket-size-110cm?gpla=1&gao=1&&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping_us_c-pet_supplies-pet_collars_and_leashes-pet_leashes&utm_custom1=_k_CjwKCAiAvaGRBhBlEiwAiY-yMBmpcpPKbDqre1uDJg2eR3cDGAAhc2HhyYSPE06-x_P35Bq5OYl1uRoCAcIQAvD_BwE_k_&utm_content=go_12563609708_125210521091_507234014840_aud-1184785539978:pla-355268820615_c__770247451_12768591&utm_custom2=12563609708&gclid=CjwKCAiAvaGRBhBlEiwAiY-yMBmpcpPKbDqre1uDJg2eR3cDGAAhc2HhyYSPE06-x_P35Bq5OYl1uRoCAcIQAvD_BwE I would only use this type of a leash for a well trained dog though since a dog who bolts or pulls hard might break or pull this out of your hand if determined. If you really want pup off-leash there I would look into something Halo collar, which is GPS mapping instead of in-ground, so you don't have to bury anything on the apartment property. Ideally, there would be a physical barrier still, but the Halo will at least give pup a warning if they wander or run before you can call, to hopefully stop pup before they get to a road. Pup would need to wear the collar consistently though to ensure it's effectiveness when needed. When that said, to teach a general reliable recall, check out the article I have linked below. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ For the type of reliability you want, I would also consider remote collar training in your case. The initial training utilizing a long training leash and premack principle need to be done first though, before adding in the collar, so start with the Come article either way. More come: https://www.youtube.com/c/JamiePenrithDogTraining/search?query=come Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 9, 2022

Dog nametag icon

Piper

Dog breed icon

German Shepherd Husky Mix

Dog age icon

4 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

User generated photo

we recently moved to a very busy road, she has a run but today she got off and ran into the middle of the road, if my neighbor had not gotten home at that moment she would've been hit. I want to train her to not go into the road at all.

March 12, 2021

Piper's Owner

Expert avatar

Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Training your dog to stay inside a boundary is quite simple. To get started you will need to purchase marker flags from your local hardware store. These are generally found in the garden section. You will also need high value treats for your dog. I like to use grilled chicken, roast beef, or cheese cut into very small pieces. Look for a treat your dog will go crazy over, and only use this special treat for boundary training. I prefer to use a clicker as a marker for training this behavior. The clicker is a reward marker communicating to your dog that she did the right thing and will get a reward. You will start inside your house with your dog. Show your dog the flag, when she touches it with her nose click the clicker and give her a treat. This will teach her that touching the flag is what gets her the reward or treat. Next, place the flag a few feet away from you. Have your dog touch the flag; when she does this again you will click. She should then return to you to get her treat. Move the flag further way and practice having your dog go to the flag, click and give her a treat when she returns to you. By doing this, you will be conditioning your dog to move away from the flag. Before moving the training outside, I like to work with my dogs for about a week to make sure they understand they are to move away from the flags. Remember to always use a clicker and a treat to reinforce this. Once your dog understands they get rewarded for moving away from the flags, it is time to take the training outside. Place flags along your boundary line every 8-10 feet. Using a 15 to 20 foot long line, walk your dog around the boundary of your yard. She should go to the flags and touch them. After this happens you will click and your dog should return to you for her treat. Remember to continue to use your clicker and click and dispense a treat every time she touches the flags. For the best success practice this several times a day. You are classically conditioning your dog to return to you when she sees the flags. The flag become the cue to return to you, this becomes an involuntary response to the dog. Practice as often as you can, 8 to 10 weeks of practice will help make this a very solid behavior. The more you practice the more solid the behavior will be. As your dog gets better at returning to you, increase the length of the long line to 40 or 50 feet. You can also introduce some low level distractions to the training. This increases the difficulty of the behavior so make sure your dog gets a lot of praise and reinforcement for returning to you. Gradually increase the level of the distractions. If your dog is having trouble with this part of the training, make sure your distractions are not too high level. The last step is working with your dog off-leash. Make sure you are supervising your dog during this part of the training. Reinforce your dog often during the off lead sessions. Be aware of what is going on outside your yard and if you feel the distractions are too much for your dog to handle put her back on the lead. You will also want to make sure your yard is a fun environment for your dog. The yard should be a place where your dog feels safe and happy. One last tip; Do not punish your dog if she goes out of her boundary. Simply call her back and praise her when she returns. This will teach her that being inside the boundary is always rewarding and good things happen whenever she is inside the boundary.

March 12, 2021


Training assistant
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.